Jacques Cousteau once said, â€śThe best way to observe a fish is to become a fish.â€ť Free diving allows you to do just that, offering a completely different experience without the constraints of scuba equipment, and the possibility of even closer encounters with marine life. This is especially true of the Maldivesâ€™ Hanifaru Bay, where manta rays and whale sharks gather in huge numbers for a feeding frenzy between May and November each year. While the area has been off-limits to scuba divers since 2011, snorkeling and free diving are still allowed. Enter the new PADI-accredited free diving center at the nearby Anantara Kihavah Villas, which is only the second such facility in the country after the one launched in May by sister property Anantara Dhigu in the South MalĂ© Atoll. Here, guests can learn the sport under the tutelage of marine biologist and competitive free diver Talya Davidoff. The hardest part? Holding your breath amid such a breathtaking underwater spectacle. â€”James Louie
This article originally appeared in theÂ October/NovemberÂ print issue of DestinAsian magazine (â€śIntoÂ the Blueâ€ť).